RELlEF WORK IN FRANCE
American Women who have given generously of their time and means-What the American Canteen means to the soldiers-American Relief Clearing House-War Relief Clearing House for France and her Allies- American Ambulance Hospital in Paris-Committee for Training Maimed Soldiers-Edith Wharton's war charities-Le Paquet du Soldat.
It is said that there is not a single canteen in France, of all the long line of rest and refreshment stations, where the American and French Red Cross are united, where somebody's genius for home-making is not bringing an unexpected bit of comfort or beauty. And wherever this home spirit is expressed its influence is immediately and widely felt. "There is a canteen where an American woman has planted a flower bed along a munition factory wall, "says Marion Bonsall Davis "and here is another where a French soldier left a book for his comrades to write or draw sudden inspiration; in this are found tributes to lost comrades and touching stories of great sacrifices---it is a book which may help future generations of France to love and understand this generation. Here is still another canteen where a woman worker has made a shelf for children's toys for small visitors. And here, at a great railroad station where the troop trains start for the front,
Madame Courçol takes the flowers or the lovely weeds and grasses which have been decorating her refreshment truck and fastens them high and jauntily to the end of the train just before it moves out-the field flowers, and the lilies and the flag of France, for which men give their lives."
Many American women who were living abroad when war was declared are volunteers in the Red Cross canteen service. The nearer they are to the front line and the more frequently their sheds or their cellars or their dugouts are bombarded the more tenderly do they hang green branches to the door, festoon the ceiling with bright colors or tack some heartening picture on the blank wall.
In Paris the Woman's War Relief Corps was organized in the fall of 1917 under the presidency of Mrs. Sharp, wife of the United States Ambassador, and many American women are prominently identified with the work, which is mentioned in another chapter.
Madame Waddington,chairman of the advisory board and Mrs. R. W. Bliss,chairman of the executive committee. Among those on the board of directors are: Mrs. Edith Wharton, Mrs. Shurtleff, who has long been identified with relief work in Paris, Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt, who has done so much in connection with the American Ambulance, Miss Esther Cleveland, Mrs. George Monroe, who has charge of the auxiliary nurses, and many other well-known of the Red Cross circles and Mrs. Bradley, wife of Colonel Bradley,General Pershing's Staff, is at the head of the Woman's Auxiliary Committee of the American Red Cross Military Hospital.
Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., works regularly in the Y.M.C.A. Canteen. Mrs. Whitlaw Reid, Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt and her mother, and Mrs. Willard are also interested in war work in Paris. Mrs. Vincent Astor,has interested herself in canteen work, and Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt and Miss Elsie De Wolfe are helping the Red Cross.
Among other well-known American women who are active in relief work in France may be mentioned Mrs. Willard, Mrs. Vanderbilt, Mrs. Edith Wharton, Mrs. Shurtleff,Mrs. Benjamin Girault Lathrop, chairman of the Paris depot of the American Fund for French Wounded. Mrs. Lathrop has done an especially beautiful work amid many difficulties and at the cost of great personal sacrifice. She worked early and late, sick and well, at home and in the office. She went constantly between Paris and London, and at the latter place one of her young daughters was in frail health. It was said that the tremendous growth and superb service of the American Fund for French Wounded was largely because Mrs. Lathrop had a genius for the personal touch in things. Miss Vail, treasurer of the same organization, a relative of Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer,and a gifted woman, has also given unstintingly of herself to the cause of suffering France. Miss Adeline Gracie, also lavish in her expenditure of time and means, of strength and spirit, made her canteen an unforgettable thing to the men who passed her way. She is a sister of the late Colonel Archibald Gracie. Miss Gracie was at work on the field so early, and her service was such a beautiful one, that it is a pleasure to record even this slight recognition of her work. Miss Mabel Davison, has worked unceasingly to help the blind, both in the government institution and at Miss Holt's famous Light House. Miss Davison held the light for many stumbling feet over there in blood-stained France, and perhaps no individual has brought more comfort and more cheer to the desperate and the hopeless than she.
France came to the aid of America in the gravest crisis of her history, and it is not to be wondered at that, early in the war, France became the object of tenderest solicitude to American women. The record of suffering alleviated and of faith sustained will never be written. By the end of 1917 there were something like thirty organizations and branch organizations in America doing war relief work for France.
Early in the war there was formed in France under the sanction of the French Government the American Relief Clearing House, with the Honorable Robert Bacon as honorary president, and Mr. H. H. Harjes as president, with the object, among others, of receiving and properly distributing contributions for the relief of sufferers of France and her allies. For the purpose of cooperating with this movement in France a complementary association was formed in America under the name of War Relief Clearing House for France and her allies. This organization, working in close affiliation with the one in France which is recognized by the French Government as an official representative in France of the distribution of American charity, has forwarded more than 88,000 cases of relief supplies, valued in excess of $6,000,000, and has received more than $1,632,000 in cash. It is in touch with more than 5,000 relief organizations, societies, schools, churches, clubs, and groups of individuals located in various parts of the United States, Canada, Hawaiian Islands, Cuba, Bermuda, etc., in no sense supplanting these organizations but lending them its exceptional facilities, free of charge, in order that the charitable work going on in this country may not suffer from duplication, inefficiency or wasted effort.
The War Relief Clearing House for France and Her Allies has its executive offices at No. 40 Wall Street, New York City, and its warehouses are located at No 124 Charlton Street, New York City. Mr. Clyde H. Pratt, executive secretary. The organization gives its services and information free to all contributors, is kept reliably informed as to what form of relief is most needed and where, and disseminates such information to affiliated organizations in America. It also acts as a purchasing and forwarding agent for organizations and individuals wishing to contribute funds or supplies, thereby giving contributors the benefit of its exceptional prices. It obtains free shipment, with few exceptions, for contributions from New York to the designated destination in Europe. It enters contributions of supplies into ports of the allied countries, free of customs duties, and is given free transportation for supplies over the French and Italian railroads. It delivers supplies where they are the most needed by the quickest and surest route and makes no charge for its services. All contributions for relief are delivered intact, without deductions for operating expenses. Practically all of the organizations doing relief work in France are operating through the War Clearing House.
One of the most notable of the war charities for France is the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris, which has won world-wide fame. Its headquarters are at No. 14 Wall Street, New York City. Since it was organized at the beginning of the war the work of the institution has steadily increased, and more than 1,500 patients are treated every day at its main and auxiliary hospitals The ambulance service has grown until more than 250 ambulances are on duty in Paris and at the front. The cost of inaugurating and maintaining this splendid work is borne entirely by the voluntary contributions of Americans who have chosen this method of expressing their country's gratitude and friendship for the French people. During a single year over 5,100 cases of acute surgery were treated in the hospitals at Neuilly and at Juilly, and in the Field Hospital, and over 135,000 patients were transported by the motor ambulances in the entrenched Camp of Paris and in the field. These figures, although imposing, can by no means be taken as a measure of the work accomplished. Large quantities of dressings, hospital supplies, clothing, etc., specially donated for the purpose, have been distributed, and in emergency much surgical and medical relief has been given to the civil population. But perhaps not the least achievement of the American Ambulance has been to bring to almost every town and village of France, through the wounded, their families, and their friends, a lasting appreciation of the profound sympathy of the American people for France and for her heroic soldiers.
The Hospital is a recognized center for severe, complicated fractures, for nerve injuries requiring the most delicate surgical procedures, and for the distressing injuries and disfigurements of the face and jaws. The reputation of the Hospital in these particular directions has grown steadily, and this reputation has brought many distinguished surgeons, as visitors, from all countries of the world.
In all of the wonderful work done by this institution, women have had a conspicuous and a vital part. Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt and Mrs. Henry Payne Whitney are on the Board of Governors of the American Hospital in Paris and the American Committee consists of the following: New York, Mrs. Robert Bacon, chairman, Mrs. C. B. Alexander, Mrs. Frederick O. Beach, Mrs. August Belmont, Mrs. S. R. Bertron, Mrs. Henry P. Davison, Mrs. William Greenough, Mrs. E. H. Harriman, Mrs. A. Barton Hepburn, Mrs. Henry W. Munroe, Mrs. H. Fairfield Osborn, Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Mrs. Herbert L. Satterlee, Mrs. Charles H. Sherrill, Mrs. Willard D. Straight, Mrs. Edward M. Townsend, Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt, Mrs. Whitney Warren, Mrs. Alexander S. Webb, Mrs. Henry Payne Whitney,Miss Elsie Nicoll, chairman Junior Committee; Albany, Mrs. Wm. Bayard Van Rensselaer, Boston, Mrs. Edward Brandegee, Mrs. Barrett Wendell, Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears, Mrs. Bayard Thayer, Mrs. Sturgis Lothrop, Cleveland, Mrs. Myron T. Herrick, Mrs. Parmely W. Herrick, Mrs. Dudley P. Allen, Chicago, Mrs. Bryan Lathrop, Mrs. Russel Tyson, Detroit, Mrs. Charles A. Coolidge, Erie, Pa., Mrs. F. L. Chapin, Petersburg, Va., Miss Helen Cameron, Princeton, N.J., Mrs. Junius S. Morgan, Philadelphia, Mrs. George Wharton Pepper, Mrs. J. William White, Pittsburg, Mrs. William Reed Thompson, Providence, Mrs. F. A. Sayles, St. Louis, Mrs. George A. Castleman, Mrs. Stanley Stoner, San Francisco Mrs. Francis Carolan ,Troy, Mrs. Charles S.Francis, William R. Hereford, executive secretary, Hugh S. Bird, financial secretary.
It is interesting to note that, of a total of 3,107 patients received in twelve months, ending August 31, 1917, there were but 72 deaths, making a death rate of 2.31 per cent. or approximately one-half of the death rate during the previous year of the hospital. Several hundred Americans have been in active service as volunteer ambulance drivers.
The American Committee for Training in Suitable Trades, the Maimed Soldiers of France, Mrs. Edmund L. Baylies, chairman, was formed in February, 1916. This is the American branch of the Union des Colonies Etrangères en France en Faveur des Victimes de la Guerre. It has established the following schools: Grand Palais, Champ Elysées, Paris, where, in a building donated by the French Government over three hundred men are being trained; No. 28, Quai Debilly, Paris, a large private dwelling house given by its owner, where 100 maimed soldiers are lodged, fed and trained and Maison Blanche, Neuilly sur Marne (8 miles from Paris), founded and maintained by the gift of Mr. Edward T. Stotesbury, of Philadelphia, amounting to over $75,000, where over 500 maimed soldiers are being trained. The French Committee has found situations for several hundred graduates from these American Trade Schools, where in less than two years more than 2,000 maimed soldiers were trained. All money is disbursed in France under the personal direction of a committee of the Union des Colonies Etrangères.
The French Government asked the cooperation of the American Committee in order to establish agricultural schools for the maimed peasants. The peasants of France are bearing the heaviest burden of this great war-over sixty per cent. of the French being drawn from the rural population. In the invaded districts, notwithstanding the admirable efforts of the women to replace the men at the front, farms were necessarily neglected. Two extensive farm were offered to the American Committee with the approval of the French Government. One of these is at Juvisy (15 miles from Paris), where $40,000 were required to equip the farm to teach the various agricultural branches, such as the use of agricultural machinery, market gardening, horticulture, forestry, poultry farming, dairying, etc. Over 300 maimed men are being trained at this farm. The other farm is at Troyes (100 miles southeast of Paris), where $10,000 were required to provide instructors, implements, etc., the authorities having provided everything else necessary. The American Committee assumed responsibility for these two farms which will become self-supporting and will be continued after the war. The executive committee of the organization consists of Mrs. Charles B. Alexander, Mrs. Ogden Mills, Mrs. William Douglas Sloane, Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Hon. Myron T. Herrick, Hon. J. W. Riddle, Mr. Edmund L. Bayliss, and Mr. Moncure Robinson.The total amount of the fund to January, 1918, was $315,530.19. American Headquarters, Room 134, Biltmore Hotel, New York City.
Edith Wharton's war charities in France consist of the American Hostels for Refugees, founded in November, 1914, with Mrs. Wharton as President, and the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee founded by Mrs. Wharton in April, 1915, at the request of the Belgium Government. The American Hospitals for Refugees give permanent care to about 3,500 refugees, chiefly French women, children, and sick and infirm people who cannot earn a living. Most of the refugees were in extreme poverty, living huddled together in miserable lodgings. Mrs. Wharton started a fund which maintains three large lodging houses, two restaurants, serving over 600 meals a day, an employment agency, a large workroom for women, a day nursery, a clothing depot, a coal depot, a grocery depot, a free clinic, a dispensary, district visitors, two hospitals (100 beds) at Groslay, near Paris, one resthouse for 30 people in Paris, and one of 30 beds for anemic and tubercular children at Arromanches, in Normandy. In less than three years after it was established the hostels had provided for more than 14,000 refugees, of whom 12,000 needed and received medical aid; found employment for more than 6,000 men and women; distributed more than 100,000 garments and served at a nominal cost more than 300,000 meals.
The Children of Flanders Rescue Committee boards, lodges, clothes, and cares for over 700 children from the bombarded towns of Western Flanders, about 200 infirm old men and women, with the Flemish sisters who care for them. Some of the children were in orphanages; others were picked up in ruined villages or abandoned farms. One baby of twenty month had been living, for five days, alone and without food in a barn; two others, a little older, were taken from the arms of their dead father, killed by a shell while he was escaping with them. After they had been in Paris for a little while, twelve of the older children were told, as a lesson, to draw a house from memory. Ten out of the twelve drew a house in flames. These children were soon happy and contented and were taught by the Belgian nuns.
These Flemish committees were established in six large houses as follows: Le Château Vieux, rue Saint-Denis, St. Ouen; Ville Bethanie, Montsoult (Seine-et-Oise); Villa Saillet and Villa les Bergeries, Arromanches (Calvados); Ecole Brazillier; Sèvres, 67, rue de la Santé, Paris. There are two lace schools, one at Sèvres and one at St. Ouen, where lace making is taught to the older girls according to the methods of the celebrated Ecole Normale of Bruges. With utmost economy it costs $9,250 a month to maintain the hostels and hospitals, and $1,800 a month for the children of Flanders, making a total of $11,050. Mrs. Wharton's fellow countrymen in Paris helped her generously with their money, and the French Government expressed its sense of the value of her work by decorating her with the Cross of the Legion of Honor-a distinction rarely given to women. But much of her help came from her own country. Mrs. Cadwalader Jones is chairman of the New York Committee which consists of Mrs. Henry W. Munroe. treasurer; Miss Pauline Riggs, secretary; Miss Janetta Alexander, Mrs. Gordon Knox Bell, Mrs. Cortlandt Field Bishop, Mrs. William Adams Delano, Mrs. J. Lloyd Derby, Mrs. Richard Derby, Mrs. Arthur Murray Dodge, Mrs. McDougall Hawkes, Mrs. William Bayard Cutting, Mrs. William Pierson Hamilton, Mrs. Adrian Iselin, Mrs. Henry James, Miss Luisita Leland, Mr. Clement March, Mr. Walter Maynard, Mrs. Walter Maynard, Mrs. John James Kane, Mr. Philip J. Roosevelt, Mrs. Charles Scribner, Mr. George Palen Snow, Miss Robinson Smith, Mrs. Willard Straight, Mrs. George Whitney, Mrs. Whitridge, and Mrs. Linsley R. Williams. There are also committees in Boston and in Montclair, New Jersey. American Committee, 21 East 11th St., New York City.
Le Paquet du Soldat has American headquarters at 56 Reade St., New York City. Its executive committee consists of: president, Madame Eugene Maloubier, vice president, Madame Emmanuel Jonessoff, recording secretary, Miss Lucy F. Mohan, corresponding secretary, Miss Helen Dunn, French secretary, Mlle. Cecile Debouy, purchasing agent, Miss Byrd W. Hamblen, Miss Frances Clement,chairman of the Committee of Le Paquet de l'Orphelin, and associated with her are Mlle. Marie Louise Raoux,Miss Elizabeth Goldsmith, The personnel of other committees is as follows: Committee of Le Paquet de l'Hôpital, Mlle. Violette E. Scharff, chairman; associated with Mlle. Scharff are Mlle. Julie E. Cappelle,Mlle. Louise Guebin, chairman of the Shipping Committee is Miss Olive Lewis, and associated with her are Madame Thiallier,Mr. Jean Bazerque, members of the Finance Committee are Mrs. Andrew Burne, Miss Jessie Colvin,Miss Edith Putnam. The organization is particularly interested during the war in finding godmothers and godfathers for the orphaned children of France, and each month a substantial draft goes to the branch organization in Montbeliard. After the war the work will be devoted to caring for the orphans. The Committee is providing packages for American soldiers, and half of the fund realized from the booth at the Allied Bazaar of November, 1917, was used for tobacco kits for American soldiers in France.
Chapter XXXIV. Relief for France
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